With Ballyclare having no match last weekend, Omagh Accies narrowed the gap at the top of Qualifying League 2 to a mere four points.
Each have fulfilled 15 fixtures, and Bob Young’s side has a tally of 64 points, while Omagh’s bonus-point victory against Academy on Saturday took theirs to 60, but Ballyclare have a much superior points difference which would be decisive if the promotion battle goes down to the wire.
Two of Ballyclare’s remaining games are home and away against Strabane, who have not a single point to their name after 13 consecutive defeats since gaining promotion last season.
Ten points should be garnered from these two clashes, and that would be enough to ensure a return to Qualifying 1 irrespective of an expected strong Omagh finish to what has been a hard fought campaign.
n In midweek Ballyclare travelled to Palace Grounds in Armagh to fulfil a Qualifying 2 Alliance League fixture against Armagh II, and managed to churn out a convincing 36-20 win, despite having to make wholesale changes.
Finlay, Brownlee, Johnston and Kirk were drafted in to the pack, while Clotworthy and Beasant joined the back division, and after a sluggish start Ballyclare turned round 17-13 ahead, with number eight Willie Logan and winger Stephen Beasant scoring unconverted tries, while Colin Morrow added a penalty.
In the second session the game was controlled by fly-half Niall Lawther who was involved in three further touchdowns scored by himself, Logan and Gary Clotworthy, with Morrow adding two conversions.
Best for ‘Clare were Ballyclare High School student Ross Johnston, and Brownlee in the pack, while Reid, Crawford and Clotworthy impressed in the backs according to skipper Rab Boyd, who also picked out Niall Lawther for the Man of the Match accolade.
In preparation for this weekend’s home clash with Ballymena IV in the semi-final of the Forster Cup, Mark Fox’s 4th XV registered a fine 66-7 win against Lurgan II at The Cloughan.
In a one-sided Junior League romp Gary Clotworthy scored a hat-trick of tries, with further scores by Gareth Smith (two), Ross Johnston (two), Trevor Clarke, Alan Jones and Stevie Crawford, while John Wasson converted eight of the ten touchdowns.
At youth level, the Under-17s won 12-10 in Lisburn, where Ryan Lorimer and Mark Pyper got scores, with Joe McConnell adding a conversion. On Saturday they play Malone in the Ulster U17 Cup.